Mum fundraising for stem cell research

18:48, Nov 11 2012
Southland Times photo
Jaylen-Blaze Daane, 2, with his mum Toni Daane, has his blood sugar checked.

An Invercargill mum is raising money for stem cell research in Dunedin she hopes will give her diabetic son an illness-free future.

Jaylen-Blaze Daane turns 3 next Wednesday, which is World Diabetes Day. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in July.

To combat feelings of anger and helplessness, Mrs Daane turned to a Facebook support group during the winter, that connected parents, and provided information on research development for diabetes.

'It was through the social media site that she began following news of a preliminary trial, spearheaded by an Otago Medical School research team along with the Spinal Cord Society New Zealand.'

The stem cell trial is separate from the Living Cell Technologies trial - now in its second phase - which uses cells from Auckland Island pigs to boost human insulin production. 

The preliminary work at Otago will cost $700,000; the clinical trial will cost a further $1,100,000 - Mrs Daane said she jumped into action to get the trial off the ground because she did not want her son to be limited by diabetes as an adult.


''[The] last four months have been so hard. When you face that this is the rest of his life - you've got to plan ahead. I just think 'wow, this is forever, let's sort it out'.''

Mrs Daane and Jaylene-Blaze will be selling scratchy boards in front of Countdown Invercargill today with proceeds going towards the Otago trial.

Mrs Daane said she felt angry and helpless when her son was first diagnosed.

''I was doing all the right things - I was smokefree and I breastfed. There was this guilt [after he was diagnosed]  of what did I do wrong.''

Because of his lowered immunity,  even a common cold was problematic.

''It's a cold - its the most minute thing a kid could get,'' she said. ''We've had to come to hospital twice in a week over a cold. The angering part is how stupid is a cold?''

Jaylene-Blaze was already resigned to having his finger pricked four times a day, to check his blood sugar level and reassured his mother and nurse the finger pricking and sight of blood did not bother him.

One of his most common phrases was ''it doesn't hurt.''

''I know sometimes it does. He shouldn't have to explain that it doesn't hurt.''

Clinical research director Dr Jim Faed, who is overseeing the trial, said funding had been trickling in, a hurdle he blamed on the financial recession.

Several funding applications had been made, he said.

The trial would use a person's own stem cells, which would then be grown in a laboratory. Methods would be tested there to suppress the auto-immune response in their body.

If successful, this could mean Type 1 diabetes could be stopped, he said.

Dr Faed said while the aim was to cure Type 1 diabetes, the treatment could then be used for other auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and MS.

Eventually, this could also be a treatment or cure for spinal cord injuries, he said.

''We're standing on the edge of what could be a huge development.''

Diabetes Awareness Week runs from November 13 to 19.

Did you know?
● Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease where the body's own immune system attacks and destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas.

● People have to take regular insulin injections and test blood sugar levels to stop long term health problems which affect the heart, kidneys, nerves, eyes and can cause strokes and other severe health problems. 

●Type 1 is different from Type 2 diabetes, which is the more common form of diabetes. In Type 2 the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the cells in the body don't recognise the insulin that is present.  Source: Diabetes NZ and Spinal Cord Society NZ

The Southland Times